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Can blockchain tech bring traceability and trust to the bunker biz?

Written by Nick Blenkey
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Matthew Henry/Burst

DECEMBER 4, 2018 — A maritime blockchain technology demonstrator project that aims to provide trusted information about bunker fuel origin, journey and characteristics is set to enter a phase of further development on its path towards commercialization.

The project is the work of Maritime Blockchain Labs (MBL), a partnership between Blockchain Labs for Open Collaboration and Copenhagen headquartered Blockchain Labs for Open Collaboration (BLOC) and its next phase of the project will see real-world fuel deliveries and associated verified data entered into the system.This will be undertaken by a consortium of shipowners and operators, fuel suppliers, port authorities and a fuel testing body. MBL is inviting interest from stakeholders in these groups to join and cosponsor this work which is expected to begin January 2019.

A prototype digital system, providing fuel assurance for shipowners and suppliers, was developed earlier this year together with a consortium including the International Bunker Industry Association (IBIA), LR’s FOBAS team, Bostomar, Heidmar, BIMCO, Goodfuels and Precious Shipping. The demonstrator phase of the project was funded by Lloyd’s Register Foundation.

The successful development of a marine fuels quality tracing and compliance prototype involved testing in a simulated environment with the consortium in September this year. The demonstrator closed with the prototype being used for the manual capture of the world’s first end to end fuel transaction on a blockchain in the Port of Rotterdam.

“The recently concluded MEPC73 showed us that there are still burning questions about the availability of compliant fuels post-2020 – and the current epidemic of bad bunker, as it’s been called by Intertanko and others, shows that building traceability and trust in the marine fuels supply chain is one of the most vital issues facing shipping right now,” said Deanna MacDonald, CEO of BLOC. “Our demonstrator phase has shown us that dealing with marine fuels’ quality and quantity assurance is an industry wide issue, and that the industry is looking to work together to solve this issue. We’ve built something that for the first time, will allow stakeholders across the global shipping industry to verify and validate transactions across the fuels supply chain.”

MBL’s platform provides a chain of custody on quality and quantity documentation points for interested stakeholders within the supply chain, which in turn will provide them with a decision support system.

This is achieved by using Hyperledger Fabric blockchain technology. This technology creates an immutable chain of custody of quality analysis documentation and specification of fuels from the various actors transacting and transferring the fuels throughout the supply chain. The analysis results of the fuel supply are then associated or linked to the specific transaction offering this fuel.

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